Billie Sieg, the BPOE, and excluding visitors from “Christian” organizations…
If you’ve been reading the one redeeming factor of the Portland Oregonian (besides the comics, and the NYT Crosswords) you may have come across Margie Boule’s recent columns regarding Billie Sieg, the BPOE (Elks Lodge), and excluding visitors from “Christian” organizations.
For more background on this series, check out Margie’s webpage.
In a nutshell, 80-year old Sieg wanted to join the Elks, but on her application form she noted, honestly, that she was an athiest. The Elk’s not only denied her membership (which I hesitantly agree with) but also banned her from visiting the lodge with friends, as she had done in the past (which I disagree with.)
Here is my letter to Margie:
I just wanted to drop you a note of support and say that, as a Christian, and after reading the last several days article on Billie Sieg and the whole “BPOE” debacle, you’ve changed my position on this issue and that doesn’t happen often, lol.
While I still firmly believe that private organizations have the right to limit membership based on the tenets of their charters, the Elks, specifically, raise my eyebrow at this “no visitor” ruling for two reasons.
The first (and lesser) is personal experience. Both my father and Grandfather were life-long members of the Elks, and I don’t recall that it was a particularly “religious” experience for them.
I have photo of my grand-dad sitting at a BPOE bar with a beer in front of him and two empties on the side, circa 1960. He was a big fan of visiting the Elk’s lodge bar on Friday nights, drinking deeply, and then going to a nearby field to fist-fight anyone who took exception to him. This was a regular occurrence.
Not exactly a WWJD situation, lol.
A life-long alcoholic and a physically abusive husband and father, he was buried with full BPOE honors, including an inscription on his headstone.
Not that this portrays, in any way, a typical BPOE member, but it’s not exactly a gold-standard for a “Christian” organization.
Which brings me to my second, and more important, point: as a Christian (both personally and professionally) I’m at a loss as to where, Biblically, these members of the Elks would find an example of Christ turning away a non-believer.
I checked with my own Pastor and was happy to find that our attitude is that we would happily invite Billie Sieg, or any other non-Christian, to join our service in the hopes that we would be able to demonstrate to them the love of Christ, and help them find the gift of His salvation.
An organization that labels itself Christian and yet turns away the lost is a spiritual oxy-moron of “biblical” proportions!
Hope that doesn’t sound too “preachy” but maybe if the BPOE really wants to extend their “Christian influence” they should more readily welcome, with love and open arms, those who most need it.
Just one “Christians” opinion,
So…that was what I had to say. I welcome your thoughts and opinions below…